Fong’s Pizza – Gluten-Free Crazy Pizza

GF Friendly Restaurants, Gluten-Free, Travel, Vegetarian

Fong’s Pizza – Gluten-Free Crazy Pizza

4 Comments 29 July 2016

I had a chance to visit Fong’s Pizza in DesMoines, Iowa last summer when visiting my mom. She picked me up from the airport and asked, “Are you hungry?”

Always.

Mom researched and found a pizza place that had great reviews. That’s all I needed to hear. Mom and I are adventurous when it comes to gluten-free food. But when we pulled up to the restaurant we had second thoughts.

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This in no way looked like a pizza place. It looked like a Chinese restaurant. I suppose we shouldn’t have been as surprised with a name like “Fong’s”. We laughed, decided we weren’t feeling it, and went to a Mexican restaurant.

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A few months ago while having dinner in New York with Johnna of In Johnna’s Kitchen, we were discussing gluten-free options in DesMoines, lamenting the closing of the all-vegan New World Cafe, and somehow Fong’s Pizza came up. I must have looked at Johnna like she had two Chinese dragon heads when she said that Fong’s was great and “so much fun”.

Were we talking about the same place?

But if you are going to trust anyone’s restaurant recommendations, trust Johnna’s. She travels all over the country (world) sharing her restaurant experiences in a series called “I Ate Here”.

So a few weeks ago, after sharing Johnna’s rave report, Mom and I mustered the courage to eat at Fong’s. Just one glance at the menu told me that this was going to be an adventurous meal.

Egg roll pizza?

Mac and cheese pizza?

Surrounded by waving kitties and tiki glasses, I had to remind myself that this was a pizza place. But what kind of decor should a “crazy pizza” pizza place have anyway?

I can’t remember the description of the special pizza of the day that the waiter rattled off, mostly because it sounded nonsensical. It just didn’t compute as something remotely close to the paradigm for a pizza. But I swear that it included the words topped with french fries and deep fried.

Crazy pizza!

Mom and I didn’t opt for the crazy; instead we split a very conservative and tasty Thai pizza (with chicken on her half) on gluten-free dough. Adventurous enough for us. Fong’s does have vegetarian options, but the majority of the menu has meat toppings or fillings. It is Iowa after all. They even have a barbecue-type pizza called the Iowan. I was eying the Vegan Supreme made with Daiya, but when I’m in Iowa, eating vegan is hard and less of a priority. Eating vegetarian and gluten-free is my main concern.

I highly recommend that you check out Fong’s Pizza if you’re in DesMoines. Also check out Johnna’s experience as she can give you even more details on the atmosphere and the delicious looking drinks. (We had the 5:00pm, G-rated version appropriate for minors and seniors.)

Readers, dish!

  • What’s the craziest pizza you’ve ever had?
  • Have you been to Fong’s Pizza? How was your experience?
By the Way Bakery

GF Friendly Restaurants, Gluten-Free, New York City, Vegetarian

By the Way Bakery

8 Comments 25 June 2016

There’s a neighborhood gem called By the Way Bakery that I’ve mentioned before, and it’s about time I show it off. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s not on my daily path to and from work, or I’d stop there every day. I have to make a conscious effort to walk a few blocks in the opposite direction to enjoy these tasty treats. And out of sight out of mind is probably a good thing or I just might be a daily customer.

By the Way Bakery is a gluten-free, dairy-free bakery on the Upper West Side where every delicious item is made by hand. Everything I’ve sampled is so light, fluffy, and scrumptious that you’d never know it was gluten free, which was the original intent of the founder, to make delicious baked goods that “by the way” just happen to be gluten free. Owner and founder, Helene Godin, left a successful law career of 20 years to open this bakery which has expanded to three locations including Westchester, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side. To hear her inspiring story click here.

I usually pop in on a Saturday to grab a small treat like a cookie or a muffin.

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But if I’m having a chocolate craving, these brownies are the cure. They are the most delicious brownies on the planet. I swear.

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They also have a case filled with beautiful scones, tea cakes, and mini cakes for those wanting a few bites of fancy sophistication, but I’m a simple girl satisfied with a good old-fashioned cookie.

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By the Way creates specialty cakes like this Pear Ginger Cake.

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And this Sour Cherry Coffee Cake as well as layer cakes and challah.

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But my favorite Saturday treats are definitely their muffins. I love the Blueberry Corn Muffins.

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My current favorite muffin is the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip. Oh my heavens, it is to die for with a crumbly coffee cake-type topping and gooey chocolate chips inside.

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Just last month we had a staff breakfast at school, and I brought a few dozen By the Way muffins for the gluten-free teachers. Of course, they were a huge hit with the gluten-eaters as well!
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The next time you’re in the City, I recommend grabbing a box or two of By the Way goodies to take home. Or better yet, let me know and I’ll meet you there!

BytheWayBox_Gluten-Free_Cat

Readers, dish!

  • Have you tried By the Way Bakery’s goodies?
  • What’s your favorite all gluten free bakery?
  • What’s your favorite kind of muffin?
Treat House: Gluten and Dairy Free

GF Friendly Restaurants, GF Recipes, New York City, Vegan, Vegetarian

Treat House: Gluten and Dairy Free

11 Comments 18 June 2016

I’ve walked by this storefront in my neighborhood at least 100 times. Even though they have a sign in the window that says they sell gluten-free treats, I really wasn’t tempted to check them out until a friend wanted to stop in. Why did I wait so long? Treat House is a rice crispy treat shop, and if I’m going to enjoy a gluten-free treat it has to involve chocolate. Well, it actually has to be filled with chocolate, drenched in chocolate, and then dusted with chocolate.

What I didn’t realize was that the rice crispy square itself is just the beginning. There’s plenty of room for spreading, dipping, topping, and sprinkling with chocolate or any other of your favorite flavors.

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The creators at Treat House seem to be limited only by their imaginations.

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Which doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. They have 12 original flavors and seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the year.

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It definitely wasn’t an issue to find that much needed bit of chocolate.

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All of their treats are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free unless specified otherwise. It’s pretty obvious that the gluten-containing flavors are s’mores, chocolate pretzel, and cookies and cream. But as always, don’t assume anything is gluten free just because there’s a sign in the window. Ask. Always.

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They even had a little something for Cinco de Mayo.

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Take them home in packs of 1, 2, 4, 12, or 24.

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And this chocolate chip treat is vegan!

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Here’s a flashback to my Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice Treats that I “healthed up” a bit. Vegan, gluten-free, and sweetened with agave instead of marshmallows, these were delicious.

2 Crispy Rice Muffins by Gluten-Free Cat

Readers, dish!

  • Are you a rice crispy treat fan?
  • What are your “must haves” when you splurge on a treat?
Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

5 Comments 05 June 2016

I love hand-lettered menu boards and sidewalk art. In fact, some day I’m going to share a post of all of my favorites. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that misses actual blackboards. These brightly-lettered chalk boards are colorful, quirky, and if they mention anything about a gluten-free item, my heart does a backflip.

It was flipping for sure when I saw this sign.
Menu_Board_Gluten-Free Cat

No, not the turkey burgers.

Check out the bottom.

If a local restaurant provides gluten-free bread, you’d better believe I’m going to try it.

The trouble with being a gluten-free vegetarian is that most restaurants that offer a gluten-free bread option only have meat patties or meat fillings for their sandwiches. So I’m extra excited when there are veggie options too.

At Island Burgers & Shakes on the Upper West Side, I was pleasantly surprised to find several vegetarian options and some pretty delicious sounding salads. But I had to order a sandwich to try out that gluten-free bread. It wasn’t vegan, but it was vegetarian and oh so scrumptious, and I didn’t have to pull an apple out of my purse while my friends at their burgers.

Sandwich_Gluten-Free_Cat

Mozzarella, Pesto, Tomato, Onion Sandwich at Island Burger

Readers, dish!

What was your last fun food find?

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

7 Comments 04 May 2016

I’m pretty freakin’ fortunate to have time during the school day to dash down the street for vegan gluten-free food when I don’t pack a lunch. When “dashing out” results in a meal like this, I feel pretty lucky.

Backing up… Every other school where I’ve taught has given teachers a whopping 30 minutes for lunch. And every teacher in America knows that dropping off kids at the cafeteria takes a few of those precious minutes right off the front end, especially if there are some special someones who need a little extra “support”. After walking down to the teacher’s lounge, waiting your turn at the microwave, returning an email to a parent on your phone, and trying to remember if your lesson plans are ready for the afternoon, you might be able to sit, shovel, and have a few minutes of adult conversation. After scarfing down a few bites, you zip up your half-eaten lunch mid-conversation, and you speed-walk down the hall to promptly pick up your students in order to stay on the good side of the lunch aides. Turning the corner to the buzzing cafeteria, you silently curse, or school appropriately curse aloud “oh, banana grams!” when you realize that you’ll be hopping ’til 3:30 because you didn’t factor in 90 seconds to use the restroom. Forget a mirror to check for lettuce in your teeth. No worries, your kids will find it for you. Conclusion, teachers have an average of 10.5 minutes to eat lunch.

Speeding forward… My current school gives teachers 50 blissful minutes. Just shy of an hour to heat up a lunch, eat a gigantic salad while actually chewing, make a personal call, have a conversation with a colleague, look over afternoon lesson plans, and even use the restroom. To top it all off, we are actually allowed to walk out the front door like other free Americans to spend our lunch time however and wherever we want. We can go out for lunch! And there are days, like today, when I take full advantage of that option.

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Today I walked a few blocks to Juice Generation. Instead of grabbing a salad from their selection of raw food goodies, I opted for vegan sushi. The spicy mango roll with black rice, green mango, sweet potato, watermelon radish, and cayenne pepper was exactly what I needed to spruce up my lunch rut.

MangoSushi_GlutenFreeCat

Washed down with “The Professional” and I was ready for an afternoon of fourth grade acrobatics.

Professional

(What is it about me that was attracted to a juice called “The Professional”? Clearly the marketing genius who came up with this name was targeting those of us who aren’t satisfied with a green juice of apple and kale. The professionals go all the way! The more greens the better!)

Thankfully I remembered I needed an afternoon snack while paying for my lunch, and I was so glad that I had looked in Juice Generation’s gluten-free vegan goodie case when I headed back to my quiet classroom after saying goodbye to my charges. This almond butter muffin was not only delicious, it supported my “highly effective” lesson planning this afternoon.

Almond butter muffin

Feeling thankful, well-fed, and highly effective, I’m calling it a day. Teachers, how long do you get for lunch? Are you allowed to leave the building?

Goodbye to a Friend: Risotteria NYC

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City

Goodbye to a Friend: Risotteria NYC

8 Comments 02 May 2016

It’s hard to say goodbye to a friend, to someone who has been there through thick and thin, long hair and short, natural and light, and all phases between hating and falling in love with New York.

It’s painful to say goodbye to someone I met just one month after going gluten free in 2004, who made me realize that eating gluten-free wasn’t a death sentence. Someone who showed me that pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and cupcakes were not gone forever. Someone who I dreamed about. Someone who I purchased plane tickets to visit. Someone who made me want to move to New York. Someone who put the most satisfied smiles on my face for the past 12 years.

Risotteria_Cupcake_GlutenFreeCat

But it is time to say farewell, because Risotteria NYC closed in March of this year, and I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. Their lease was up, and according to owner Joseph Pace, “the 45% increase would have made it impossible to carry on”.

 

Heart wrenching loss.

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Risotteria was a tiny space that has left a huge hole in the gluten-free world.

So this is my farewell, and my thank you, to the restaurant that changed my perspective on gluten-free food and kept me coming back for years.

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Thank you for the gluten-free breadsticks on every table year after year.

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Thank you for every flavor pizza imaginable on thick and thin crust.

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Risotteria_Pizza2_GlutenFreeCat

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Thank you for the paninis. Actual sandwiches on freshly baked and grilled bread.

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Thank you for the gluten-free beer.

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Thank you for the goodies that we could purchase pre-made as well as mixes we could take home to bake a memory when you were far away.

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(Yes, this was a purchase from one visit.)

Of course there was always your irresistibly creamy risotto.

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Thank you most of all for the cupcakes.

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Those dreamy cupcakes.

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Those decadent, fanciful cupcakes.

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That I couldn’t resist no matter how full I was.

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Thank you for the delicious memories.

Thank you for giving so many Celiacs a place to eat safely.

For being one place where we didn’t have to ask whether something was gluten free.

We miss you already.

Obstacles to Blogging Vegan and Gluten-Free in the City

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Obstacles to Blogging Vegan and Gluten-Free in the City

42 Comments 26 April 2016

It’s been 20 months since my last blog post. This feels a little like Catholic confession. Although I’m not Catholic I’ve seen a lot of confessional scenes on tv. And while my intention isn’t to confess the reasons for my absence I’d like to explain the obstacles, because existing in New York City is a daily obstacle course. Blogger or regular human.

1 The Kitchen

Cooking and preparing food in a 6-square foot corner kitchen just isn’t exciting or easy. While I’ve acquired a butcher block to extend the kitchen into the living room, making it actually possible to make a dish or two, it’s still an ordeal that often makes me crazy and cranky. And how many smoothies and salads do you really want to read about? Because that’s about the extent of my kitchen work.

My NYC Kitchen

My NYC Kitchen

2 The Vegan Restaurants

New York is a gluten-free vegan’s dream. In my neighborhood alone, in a New York minute, I can walk to 4 vegan restaurants and 4 “fast food” vegan counters for a quick bite or fresh juice. If I blogged about the food I eat you’d get really tired of hearing about Blossom’s kale salads and beet burgers, Peacefood’s biscuits and daily soups, and Candle Cafe’s tempeh sandwiches. Because I eat these all the time.

Candle Cafe Tempeh Sandwich

Candle Cafe Tempeh Sandwich

3 Takeout

And then there’s delivery for those blustery winter months or “I don’t want to get out of my pjs” days.

Winter

Winter

Seamless, I love you. I also love the fact that you can get anything delivered to your door within an hour. Meals, groceries, cat food, wine, anything. I could blog about this a grand total of once.

4 Brunch

Brunch in New York is not optional. In the South the question isn’t “do you attend a church?” It’s “where do you go to church?” It’s assumed that you’re a good person and good people are church-goers. In New York brunch trumps church for most people. You roll out of bed on Sunday morning and don’t even have to ask the question. You’re going to brunch. The question becomes “where are we going to brunch today?” With brunch comes eggs, and eggs are obviously not vegan. As a vegan blogger my readers don’t want to hear that I eat eggs at brunch once a week, even if they are organic and locally sourced and served with gluten-free bread. There. I said it.

 Cafe Lalo

Cafe Lalo

5 Gluten-free Goodies

Gluten-free baking is out of the question in my kitchen. For the first two years we lived here my oven didn’t even work. But there are a half dozen options for gf baked goods scattered across the Upper West Side. Plus, picking up a blueberry corn muffin as a treat at By the Way Bakery is probably better for me than having a dozen calling my name from my counter at home. Are their treats vegan? No. But I do enjoy an occasional non-vegan treat. There. I said it. Again.

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

6 Gluten-Free Options

Gluten-free menus and options at restaurants are plentiful. Everywhere you eat there are options. I rarely call ahead anymore as I know they’ll be able to accommodate my dietary restrictions. I feel less and less an of an obligation to share my incredible gluten-free finds, because most restaurants have finally figured out how to do it well.

7 New York Experiences

There is so much to experience in the City.

Johnny Swim

I have no idea how I ever had time to create a recipe, cook or bake, set up the perfect photo, edit the photos, and write a colorful description three days a week while working full-time. Seriously, what else did I do? In the City there are parks to be walked, shows to see, friends to meet for happy hour, and gatherings that start too late for a school teacher. And they all seem to a happen last minute. I’m experiencing life. And I’m tired all the time.

8 The black cats who inspired this blog. image

You may remember that we lost Marcy back in 2012. We lost my sweet Max here in the city in 2014. Without these two little rays of light and joy it was a dark world for a long time. Writing about anything is hard in grief. Just last year we did rescue a 20-year-old kitty named Maggie, and we consider each day we have with her a gift.

Maggie

Maggie

So if blogging in the City is such a drag, why am I starting up again?

  1. I miss the blogging community.
  2. I miss connecting with readers.
  3. I miss the process of writing.
  4. I’m hoping you don’t mind if I blog about life instead of food all the time.
  5. There are incredible things about this City I’d love to share with you.
  6. There are annoying things about this City I’d love to share with you.
  7. I’m hoping I can be transparent instead of being afraid to share times I’ve enjoyed a non-vegan experience.

    Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

    Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

  8. New York City is eye-opening.

I hope you’ll come back and read!

Hummus Kitchen

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

Hummus Kitchen

7 Comments 18 April 2014

New York City has to be the easiest place to be a gluten-free vegan. Yes, I’m a lucky foodie girl. There are days that I still can’t believe I get to live here. While traipsing through the City we found this little place and decided to stop in for a snack.

Hummus_Gluten-Free_Cat

Several snacks.

That turned into dinner.

With so many options it was hard to choose. The vegan items are clearly marked on the menu and many menu items are naturally gluten-free. I just ran my order past the waitress who confirmed that my choices would be safe.

Their hummus is insanely creamy and served warm. They were even kind enough to serve it with sliced veggies instead of pita bread. Now if they could make a gluten-free pita bread…

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Creamy Babaganush

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

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A rice and lentil dish called Majadra

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Falafel served with Green Tahini

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***Note: I have since read that the fryer at Hummus Kitchen is not dedicated gluten-free, which is important for those of you who are extremely sensitive. Thankfully it did not bother me.

A feast.

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There are 4 Hummus Kitchen locations in New York City. I highly recommend stopping in for a plate or three.

Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

8 Comments 19 February 2014

On Valentine’s Day, the Husband took me to one of the vegan restaurants in our neighborhood that we hadn’t yet been to together. I was thrilled to be wined and dined at Candle Cafe West with my love on this special occasion, and he definitely knocked it out of the park with the restaurant choice. We had to chuckle when the waiter asked if either of us had ever been to Candle before. I had been there with some girl friends, but the Husband had not. So the waiter looked at the Husband and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. This is vegan food for people who like food.” Obviously he had no idea who he was dealing with!

There are two Candle restaurants in the city. We had a wonderful experience at Candle Cafe East several years ago, so I knew this was going to be an incredible dinner.

We had the option of ordering dishes off the prefixed menu or going for the whole kit and kaboodle by choosing a soup, an appetizer or salad, an entree, and a dessert.  There was also an option to have each course paired with a different wine. Guess which one we chose!

Every single item we ordered was outstanding. There were at least two gluten-free options in each category, so there was plenty for me to choose from. We both ordered something different so we could enjoy more of the menu.

The Soups

Both soups were creamy and unique, starting off our meal with warm tummies on a cold evening. The portions were huge, but they were so delicious I just couldn’t help eating the entire thing! I wondered how in the world I would be able to eat 3 more courses. Don’t worry, I managed.

Valentine's1Gluten_Free_Cat

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Arame Caviar and Truffle Oil

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Smoked Red Pepper Soup with Bread

(The soup was gluten free, but the bread was not.)

I appreciated that there was plenty of time between courses to enjoy the wine and actually start feeling ready for more food. We weren’t rushed on this busy night but were given time to savor and anticipate the next course.

The Appetizers

Again, the appetizers were ample. Mine was almost a mixture of an appetizer and a salad. The Husband’s was almost a lunch portion entree.

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Grilled Artichokes with Green Beans, Hearts of Palm, Kale, English Peas, and Red Pepper Aioli

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Yes, I actually ate peas! There are few foods that I dislike, and peas are one of them, but these weren’t bad disguised in the delicious flavors from the rest of the dish.

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Spinach Ravioli with Tofu Cheese, Sauteed Spinach, Garlic, and Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce

(This was not gluten-free, so the Husband enjoyed this one all by himself.)

The Entrees

I actually can’t say which entree I liked better. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them in the restaurant as well as the leftovers the next day. I am determined to improve my tempeh and tofu-baking skills after tasting what can be done with them! The tempeh tickled my tastebuds with spiciness while the tofu had a Asian flair similar to Suzanne’s Dragon Sauce at Hello Veggy.

Valentine's6_Gluten-Free_CatVegetable Stuffed Tempeh with Grilled Tempeh, Sauteed Peppers, Shallots, Oyster Mushrooms, and Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

Valentine's7_Gluten-Free_CatSesame Crusted Tofu with Ginseng Infused Black Rice, Sauteed Snow Peas, Edamame, Ginger, and Sake-Miso Sauce

The Desserts

Love. Love. Love. Three out of the four desserts offered were gluten-free. So we narrowed it down to chocolate and chocolate. I’m a firm believer that if there is a chocolate option there’s no need to look further. I’m sure we ordered the best two desserts, because I can’t imagine a dessert tasting better than either of these.

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Almond Joy – Chocolate and Almond Mousse, Candied Almonds, and Raspberry Coulis

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Brownie with Candied Pecans, Strawberries, Kahlua Ice Cream, and Chocolate Sauce

It was a delightful evening with incredible food and wine and great service. I would highly recommend Candle West for a special occasion or just a fun dinner out. Put it on your list!

Candle Cafe West
2427 Broadway
New York, NY

Readers, dish!

  • What did you do for Valentine’s Day?
  • Which of the above dishes would you order?
  • Have you ever been to Candle Cafe?

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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